The Relax and Stretch Routine

NEW! The Tone and Stretch routine (R) that I teach is now being put onto DVD!

In the past few weeks I have been working to put the Tone and Stretch routine that I teach onto DVD.   Toning and Stretching has helped my diagnosed condition of CFS/ME.  It contains two routines.  A short Get UP routine to help bed-bound sufferers stay out of bed progressively a little longer day by day and then to progress to the Tone and Stretch routine; which is useful for everyone!

Look at my facebook page:  Filming of the Tone and Stretch routine

The Relax and Stretch Routine

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

The Relax and Stretch Routine is about relaxing to stretch to allow the individual muscles to lengthen which then aids better circulation and nerve transmission which then can help against pain.  Stretching also improves circulation including the lymphatic system.

So where possible only one or two limbs are under tension, the rest of the body should be as if it is asleep.

The Relax and Stretch Routine’s design is to relieve painful muscles and for the muscle to be successfully stretched the rest of the body needs to be relaxed.  So the emphasis on this routine is Relax.

The Relax and Stretch routine does not have to be fully completed in one attempt.  You can dip in and out and do the stretches that apply to your particular area of pain.  Better results are achieved if the full routine is completed at least once a week more often if time and energy constraints do not challenge and in a quiet room away from the hub-bub.

Important: Successful stretching keeps the tension of the stretch within your own comfort ratio.

Important: If you take the stretch to beyond your comfort ratio, you could hurt yourself.

Important: Breathe normally throughout and do not hold your breath.

Important: If anything hurts stop immediately.

OK.  Let’s go …

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Monique is totally relaxed with her head in perfect position, the chin pointing slightly down towards the chest and legs bent.  The pillow or towels under the head should not tilt the face up and back, that deepens the neck arch which can cause problems later. Relax.  Breath. Tilt the chin down.

Freeing Upper Spine or Rhomboid Stretch

CIMG4577-opening-upper-spine-b

Give yourself a tight hug, wrapping your arms around yourself.  This gently pulls the muscles in the upper back away from the spine.  With your hands wrapped around the shoulders, pull the shoulders from right to left in a rocking motion about 2 or 3 times.

Thoracic Spine Stretch

CIMG4569-thoracic-spine-b

Put your hands behind your head and pull your head towards your chest feeling the stretch go from the neck down the upper back. This may feel tingly and sparky at first, relax and hold for slow count of 10 or for as long as you can even if it is only a count of 1.

If you can manage it pull the head and bring the chin closer to the chest.  Release and gently lower the head to the towel or pillow.

Lumbar Spine Stretch

CIMG4579-opening-lower-spine-b

Relax your arms to the sides and lift the buttocks off the bed or mat and roll the back down as if you are placing each spinal vertebrae from the ribs to the hips down on the mat one at a time.

Lower the buttocks gently and relax.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Return to the relaxed position and breathe.

Lower (Lumbar) Spine Stretch

CIMG4570-lumber-spine-a

One at a time bring your legs up to your chest, and then wrap your arms around your knees and pull them into your chest. Check that your head is relaxed on the pillow or towels and your chin pointing down towards your chest.

Your arms are doing the work and you should pull and release the stretch with your arms controlling the tension.  Do not swing the legs, if you swing your legs you are using the muscles we are trying to relax and stretch.  Let the arms do the work, everything else is relaxed as if asleep.  Aim to lift the buttocks off the bed but don’t worry if you can’t.  Do two or three times.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Return to the Relaxed Position and relax and breathe.

Left Buttock (piriformis) Stretch

CIMG4571-left-buttock-a

Bring your left knee up to your chest as far as possible.

Grasp the outside of the left knee with your RIGHT hand and PULL the knee in an upwards direction to your Right shoulder.

You should feel the stretch in the middle of your buttock muscles, the piriformis muscle.

Hold for a slow count of 30 seconds or less.

Check your head is relaxed on the pillow or towels.  Your whole body should feel relaxed with only your right arm and left buttock under tension.  If you don’t feel much tension in the buttock, pull the knee closer to the chest before pulling it across to the opposite shoulder.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Return to the relaxed position before stretching the Right Buttock, relax and breathe.

Right Buttock (piriformis) Stretch

CIMG4582-right-buttock-a

Bring your right knee up to your chest as far as possible.

Grasp the outside of the right knee with your LEFT hand and PULL the knee in an upwards direction to your LEFT shoulder.

You should feel the stretch in the middle of your buttock muscles, the piriformis.

Hold for a slow count of 30 seconds or less.  Check your head is relaxed on the pillow or towel.  Your whole body should feel relaxed with only your left arm and right buttock under tension.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Return to the relaxed position and relax and breathe.

Hamstring Stretch

CIMG4583-ham-string-a

Bring the right knee into the chest and extend the leg, grab the calf muscles with both hands and pull the leg towards you.

You should feel a stretch in the back of the thigh – the hamstrings.  Aim to try to straighten the leg to increase the stretch.  Hold for 30 seconds or less.

Gently release the leg and change legs to do the same movement with the left leg.

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Relaxed Position

Return to the Relaxed Position and relax and breathe.

CIMG4612-abs-a

Abductors – TFL and ITT Stretch FIrst Position

From the Relaxed Position glue the knees together and drop both knees with the hips following to the right side of the body, keeping both shoulders on the floor.  Feel the stretch in the waist gravitating a little to the buttocks.

CIMG4610-abs-b

Abductor, TFL and ITT Stretch Second Position

Increase the stretch by passing the left leg over the right bent leg and dropping the foot to rest on the floor, the tension will be felt gravitating down the side of the leg.

CIMG4608-abs-c

Abductor, TFL and ITT Stretch Third Position

Now straighten the leg and the stretch should now be felt going past the knee.  This is what you want to achieve and the aim of this stretch.  To increase the stretch move the whole straight leg up towards the shoulder.

If you stretch out your Left arm with the palm up in this position (knees to the right and left leg being stretched) you will also apply a good stretch to the bicep muscle at the attachments to the inside of the elbow and the long head of bicep.

When you are in a comfortable position and the leg under slight tension and within your comfort ratio hold for 30 seconds or less.

Gently return to centre and the Relaxed Position, relax and breath and then do the same with the other side by ‘glueing’ your knees together and dropping down towards your Left Hand side and your Right arm stretched out.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Return to the Relaxed position and relax and breathe.

The next series of images are ones you have done before to open the spine.  This is to restore the spine to a normal position after the previous movements.
CIMG4577-opening-upper-spine-b

Freeing Thoracic Spine

Give yourself a tight hug, wrapping your arms around yourself. This gently pulls the muscles in the upper back away from the spine. With your hands wrapped around the shoulders, pull the shoulders from right to left in a rocking motion about 2 or 3 times.

CIMG4569-thoracic-spine-b

Opening UPPER Spine

Put your hands behind your head and pull your head towards your chest feeling the stretch go from the neck down the upper back. This may feel tingly and sparky at first, relax and hold for slow count of 10 or for as long as you can even if it is only a count of 1.

If you can manage it pull the head and bring the chin closer to the chest. Release and gently lower the head to the towel or pillow.

CIMG4579-opening-lower-spine-b

Opening LOWER Spine

Relax your arms to the sides and lift the buttocks off the bed or mat and roll the back down as if you are placing each spinal vertebrae from the ribs to the hips down on the mat one at a time.

Lower the buttocks gently and relax.

Adductor Stretch

CIMG4606-adductor-a

From the Relaxed Position extend the legs one at a time along the floor.

Take the LEFT leg out to the side and feel a stretch on the inside of the leg.

If the adductor muscles are over-stretched you will have pain going up and down stairs for a long time to come.  So make absolutely certain you do not over stretch the adductor muscles.

Hold within comfort ratio for about 5 to 10 seconds.

Bring the leg back to centre and take the RIGHT leg out to the side and feel the stretch on the inside of the right leg.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Bring legs back to centre and flex the knees and return to the Relaxed Position.

Deltoid Stretch

CIMG4587-upper-arm-b

Bring the RIGHT arm across the throat and place the left hand behind the elbow and push.  Feel the stretch in the shoulder.

Change arms and do the same with the LEFT arm.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Relax and breathe.

Turn over to your stomach with your head turned to one side.

Quad and Hip Flexor Stretch

CIMG4588-quad-hip-flexor-a

Flex your left knee and bring your left foot up behind and grab your foot with your  left hand.  If you can’t reach behind you, grab the clothes or socks around your leg/ankle.

Now tilt your pelvis.  To tilt your pelvis pull your stomach in tight as if you are bring your pelvic bone up towards your ribs.

You should feel the stretch in the front of your thigh, deep in the groin and around the knee.

If you sense a pain in the lumbar area (lower back) then stop.  The pain indicates that you are not tilting the pelvis enough.

To stop the pain in your lumbar region make sure you are tilting the pelvis (pushing the back out) while stretching the quadriceps muscle.

Gently change legs and do the same with the other leg.

Relaxed Position

CIMG4562-start-pos-a

Return to the Relaxed Position and relax and breathe.

Head to Calf Stretch

CIMG4621-spine-ham-string-c

Sit up.

Stretch your legs out in front of you.  Gently place your arms close to your chest and down towards your lap.  Drop your head down.  You will feel a stretch from your head to your lower back.
If your hamstrings (the muscle groups behind your upper legs) are very tight, you may find this position difficult.  So . . .

If your hamstrings or upper back hurts too much, then sit with your hands on the floor behind your back supporting you and your legs bent for a few seconds. Relax in this position.

With your legs bent move forward to slowly to bring your arms in front of you and lower them into your lap.  Relax.

Now try and straighten your legs, just a little at a time.

For those with tight hamstrings, tight lower back and tight upper back this manner of stretching the spine and hamstrings is enough.  As you do this stretch day by day, you will be able to move into the following position:

With your arms in your lap and your legs out straight, now bend forward and reach your ankles with your hands.  Relax.

For those who feel really flexible now bring your toes up to your shins.  The full length of your legs will shout: ‘Ow!” But as you stay in that position, the sensation will dissipate.

Relax your feet and move further forward as if to lie on your legs.

Completed in this manner this is a really safe and fabulous spine stretch to include a stretch of the hamstrings behind the back of the knee.

Sit up.  Relax and breath.

Tricep Stretch

No Image

Sit comfortably, facing forward.  Reach up with RIGHT arm and take arm over head reaching the hand down the upper back.  Place LEFT hand on RIGHT elbow and push back to increase the stretch in the Tricep muscle.  (muscle on the back of the upper arm)

Hold for 30 seconds or less and keep within your comfort ratio.

Neck Stretch

CIMG4591-side-neck-a

Tilt your head to Left side to stretch the Right side of the neck.

The position is as if you are trying to put the back of your ear on your shoulder.  Allow your head to dangle in this position for a slow count of 10 or longer.

Do the same with the other side.

CIMG4593-chin-shoulder-a

Look straight ahead.  Turn your head to look over your shoulder.  Really push the chin over the shoulder.  Relax and look straight ahead before moving to do the other side.

Look straight ahead.  Relax and breath.

Neck Stretch Levator Scapulae

CIMG4596-lev-scap-a

Looking straight ahead, turn your head a 1/4 turn.

Tilt the head down as if you are trying to put your nose into your armpit.

Apply tension by using the hand on the same side to pull the head down further.  You should feel a stretch on the other side gravitating from your neck to the top of your shoulder blade.  Hold for 10 seconds or longer.

Look straight ahead.  Relax and breath.  Now do the same with the other side.

The next two stretches of the Throat are not held at all for any length of time, but are simply a movement.  If you have pain in your neck, do not do these stretches.

Throat Stretch

CIMG4597-looking-up-a

Look straight ahead, now tilt your head back.

Feel stretch in throat and then look straight ahead again.

This is not a stretch that is held for any time at all.  It is just a movement to feel the stretch in the throat.  If the neck hurts while doing this, STOP and tilt the head forward to stretch out the neck again.

Sternocleido Stretch

CIMG4599-scm-a

Look straight ahead.  Turn your head a 1/4 turn to one side and tilt back to feel stretch at the side of the throat.  This again is just a movement and is not held for any length of time.  Once again if anything hurts, Stop and do the Levitator Scapulae stretches again to counteract the pain.

Do the same with the other side.

Trapezius and Rhomboid Stretch

CIMG4603-upper-back-a

Sitting in a comfortable position.  Bring your arms out in front of you.  Concentrate on the sensation in your back, it doesn’t matter too much where your arms are.

Drop your head down and feel the pull in the upper back as if you are trying to pull apart the shoulder blades and push the spine out.

This is a lovely stretch for the upper back and useful to do after any activity especially driving or working on the laptop.

Stretching the Pectoral Muscles of the Chest

CIMG4602-chest-a

Hold hands behind the back by linking the fingers, straighten the arms and lift up.  If you have tight biceps or pectorals then you may find this stretch painful.

Begin the stretch by holding hands behind the back, this may be stretch enough.  After a few days of doing the stretch you may find you can lift your arms up a little until eventually bringing them up high behind your back.

Your flexibility will dictate how quickly you will be able to achieve this stretch.  Don’t despair eventually you will be able to achieve a good pectoral stretch.

Serratus and Latissimus Dorsi Stretch

No image for this stretch.  But it is useful so I include the text here.

Sit up on your mat facing forward and with legs out straight.

Reach up with your Right arm as if trying to touch the ceiling (or sky).  Do not tilt the upper body.  Relax.  Do the same with the Left arm.

Now reach up with your Right arm and tilt the body, leaning on your left arm if you need to.  Feel the stretch down your Right side from the edge of your scapula (shoulder blade) to your waist.  Relax.  Do the same with the Left side.

Return to sitting comfortably and relax and breath.

Rest

CIMG4559-rest-a

For those of you with CFS/ME or any fatigue condition you may need to rest completely and even sleep for a while.  After a rest, get up carefully and sit for a few seconds.  Then stand up.  Roll your shoulders around and shake them.  Do a slight twisting action – gently.  These movements wake up the lymphatic system which is congested in CFS/ME people.  This stretch routine can help tiny misalignments of the body and help the lymphatic system to flow more easily.

For those of you with more energy, stand up carefully and move your heels up and down without letting your toes leave the floor.  Then jump tiny jumps for a few seconds and then stamp your feet on the floor with as much energy as you can muster.  You should now feel ready to face the day!

4 thoughts on “The Relax and Stretch Routine

  1. Pingback: Stretches and Arthritis — Marianne Gutierrez

  2. Hi! 🙂
    -Can I use this after training to stretch my muscles?
    -And should I also do it BEFORE training?

    I have read on different websites that I must NOT stretch before training. Is that true?

    • The movements in the Relax and Stretch routine are useful to use after training but the method of application needs to be different. A person having just completed a sport would not need to lie down and relax after each movement. So I would simply move more quickly and safely between the movements if I was stretching after a training session and not relax so much between each one.

      One should stretch ones muscles before training but the stretches are very short and applied to only a few muscle groups. My routine here holds a stretch for a long time and therefore this is too long before training and stretches the whole body which is not helpful before training or sport.

      The General Rule for Stretching for Training but be guided by your own or personal trainer’s advice:

      Warm Up – by walking and then after 5 mins breaking into a gentle trot for 5 mins swinging your arms alternately up to shoulder height and back – an exaggerated walk.
      Short stretches: stretch major muscle groups for 6 seconds each only. (Hamstrings, Calves, Quads, deltoids, biceps, triceps)
      Activity – Now you are ready to do your sport/activity
      Cool down – After activity you should not just stop, but continue to move by walking for a few minutes.
      Long Stretches – Stretch the major muscle groups for 20 – 30 seconds. (hamstrings, calves, quads, buttock muscles, waist, deltoids, biceps, triceps)

      The Relax and Stretch routine would be very good for athletes to do ‘as is’ once a week to de-stress the body.

      Thank you for your comment and let me know how you get on.

  3. Good day! I simply wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for the great information
    you’ve got right here on this post. I will be returning to your website for
    more soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.